Adrian Tymes wingcat at pacbell.net
Fri Jun 4 16:49:31 UTC 2010

--- On Fri, 6/4/10, Tom Nowell <nebathenemi at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> If these jobs do exist en
> masse, they're not hiring anywhere near where I live

Moving may sometimes help with finding new jobs.  For
example, it is much easier to find work as a software
engineer, or almost anything having to do with biotech,
in Silicon Valley than in most rural areas in the US.
(It is somewhat easier than many other urban areas,
too, but most of the time if this advice applies, the
one being advised is living in an area that does not
have much employment at all - though often just enough
to offer a slim, and often false, hope of maybe
finding a job locally.)

The relative ease of finding work in cities is a
large part of why urbanization happened, and is
continuing to happen.  ("Relative" must be emphasized,
though: that can be 50% odds of finding a job vs. 15%,
or 5% vs. 0%.  Either way, it's higher.)

> Adrian also wrote in a different message on the same topic
> that if people find themselves without marketable skills,
> they will retrain themselves until they do have marketable
> skills. Again, my reality shows this requires a lot of work
> and no short-term prospects of a new job.

This is true.  I was refuting the concept of permanent
unemployment (as in, you'd never have a job again, not even
in 10 or 20 or 100 years, no matter what you did).  While
there is short term unemployment, people can and do
eventually retrain themselves given a long enough drought of
work.  Sorry if this was not clear.

> For all you may
> study subjects, there's no qualification employers like more
> than recent experience in a similar role, so skills without
> work experience will put you behind people with experience
> in the interview shortlisting.

Trick: claim recent experience doing X for a non-profit
operation, that you've been doing on the side while looking
for work.  As it happens, said non-profit is also a sole
proprietorship, and you are your own supervisor.  (Without
the corpspeak, this is "I've been doing X as a hobby".  The
corpspeak shows that you can think of X as a formal,
organized project, compatible with being done in a business

> Also, employers prefer formal qualifications to informal
> study.

Software engineering in the dot-com era - which, granted,
was about 10 years ago.  But still, one can get into
industries without formal study when there's a need.

> Furthermore, qualifications that are
> obviously commercially valuable tend to be priced more
> highly - look at how much it costs for Microsoft's MCSE


MCSE, like most vendor-provided qualifications in the
software industry, is bullshit and worthless.  Few
employers I know care about it, except for low-wage jobs.
The only "formal qualification" that counts is a college
degree - BS or higher - in Computer Science or a
relevant field.  Granted, that does cost money to get,
though there exist scholarships and student loans for
precisely this reason.

> how expensive many
> business and law courses are.

Granted.  But again, college degrees seem to be the
primary qualification to enter the field - and even that
can be bypassed in some cases with enough experience,
using the method given above.  "Executive seminars" and
other things short of college degrees aren't worth the
money.  (They survive because those who provide them are
good at selling to those who don't know how to judge
their value.)

> Every upturn following an economic downturn since the mid
> 90s has had the term "jobless recovery" tagged to it by the
> media. How many "jobless recoveries" do we have to face
> before people realise we face serious structural
> unemployment NOW, let alone when voice recognition software
> renders 90% of call centre staff redundant?
> Tom (find me a job, unemployment is making me irritable)

You mentioned software.  That suggests you know, generally,
how to program.  So let me give you a variant of a trick I've

* Download and install a PHP engine from
http://php.net/downloads.php .

* Download the Apache Web server, for whatever OS you're
running.  (Yes, there does exist Apache for Windows, and it
is far more secure and stable than IIS.  I don't recommend
it for professional deployment - if you're using Apache
anyway, pair it with Linux like most people do - but it
suffices for training.)

* Install it on your computer.  Only have it running when
you are actively using it; leave it off at all other times,
and by default.  (If you don't know how to do this, google
for how to do so.)

* Configure Apache to use PHP, for any file that ends in
.php.  (Again, google for this info if you don't already
know how.  Googling for info is, in and of itself, a
job-useful skill, that many software managers don't fully
understand even today - and thus, think that employees
who get results that way are pulling off "magic".  Like
most magic, the trick is in not giving away more of the
trick than you have to.)

* Write some code to generate Web pages - simple "Hello
World" stuff.

* Download and install MySQL.

* Set up a MySQL database, then alter your code to do
something with the database.  (Maybe just four pages:
create a row from Web form inputs, update a row from
the same inputs plus the id of the row to update, read
the rows in the database, and delete a row given the
row's id.)

* Congratulations, you've created what's known as a
"WAMP stack" if you did it on Windows.  If you did it
on Linux for bonus points, that's the even more
popular "LAMP stack".  Being able to say that you have
created a LAMP stack application from scratch might
just get you in the door to interviews for a number of
Web programming positions.

* This won't win you the job by itself, of course.
Ultimately, finding a job does come down to luck, so
nothing can guarantee you a job (unless it's coming
from the one who would employ you).  But you can do
things like this to improve your odds.

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